World Bulletin / News Desk
Ukraine signed a free-trade and political cooperation agreement with the European Union on Friday that has been at the heart of the country's political crisis, drawing an immediate threat of "grave consequences" from Russia.
Georgia and Moldova signed similar deals, holding out the prospect of deep economic integration and unfettered access to the EU's 500 million citizens.
"Over the last months, Ukraine paid the highest possible price to make her European dreams come true," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told EU leaders at a signing ceremony in Brussels.
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin on Friday said there will be "grave consequences" for Ukraine, Interfax news agency reported, after President Petro Poroshenko signed the deal.
Ukraine's former pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovich turned his back on signing the EU agreement last November in favour of closer ties with Moscow, prompting months of street protests that eventually led to his fleeing the country.
Soon afterwards, Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea region, drawing outrage and sanctions from the United States and EU.
Four Ukrainian servicemen killed in new fighting
Four Ukrainian servicemen were killed and five wounded in an overnight attack by separatist fighters on a military post in the east of the country, a military analyst said on Friday.
Dmytro Tymchuk, who has good sources among government forces, said the rebels, backed by eight Russian tanks and firing mortar bombs, stormed a military base near Kramatorsk in one of several rebel attacks overnight.
"In return fire by government forces, one terrorist tank was destroyed and one tank captured," Tymchuk said on his Facebook page. "Four service personnel were killed, five wounded," he added.
He had no estimate of casualties on the rebel side. There was no immediate comment from the separatist fighters.
The attacks took place despite a week-long government ceasefire which is due to end at 10 p.m. (1900 GMT) and which Kiev says has been breached numerous times by the rebels over the past week.
In other fighting, Tymchuk said, rebels again attacked forces taking part in the government's "anti-terrorist operation" on a hill near the city of Slaviansk and one Ukrainian soldier was wounded by sniper fire.
Rebels also attacked a military base in the early hours at Artemivsk, using tank and other fire. Ukrainian forces repelled this attack without any casualties, he said.Last Mod: 27 Haziran 2014, 12:54